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I MEET "THE HELP"

California wasn't a racial Utopia, but what I had grown up around had not prepared me for my first trip to the South. In August of 1955, my father took the family on a cross country trip that included the South, the East Coast, and the Midwest. He had prepared us for the segregated section of the country, but seeing it first hand stunned my brother and me. The colored and white drinking fountains, whites only signs, the servile attitudes of the African Americans resembled a foreign country to us. Among our stops was Jackson Mississippi, the scene of the movie "The Help." We stayed for three days with our cousins, went with them to the local lake where there was a white beach and a colored beach, traveled on a bus where whites sat in the front and blacks in the rear, but there was one image that sticks in my mind as no other. There was a mammy who cleaned the house, cooked all the meals, and probably raised my cousins. One night, my girl cousin asked my brother and I if we would like to go with them to take mammy home to N.........town. We both cringed at hearing that, especially since the poor woman was in the room with us. We said that we would. Mammy piled into the back seat and my brother and I jumped in beside her. My cousins went into shock. "You can't do that. Get in the front seat." The girl sat in the driver's seat and her brother next to her. I squeezed in and my brother sat on my lap. It seemed absurd to us, but it was the truth of the times. And they don't want us to teach critical race theory.

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